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Apartment fire in Atascadero displaces four families

A report of an explosion might’ve turned into a fire that damaged an entire apartment complex in Atascadero Wednesday morning.

It happened at about 8:00 a.m. in the 8400 block of San Andres Avenue in Atascadero. Fire and Emergency Services were dispatched. Upon arrival, officials found the fire which started in one unit had quickly spread to the other three apartments in that complex.

Units from San Luis Ambulance, Templeton, Paso Robles, and Atascadero Hospital Fire Departments also responded to the fire.

Four families were displaced in the aftermath of the fire. The Red Cross was called and is assisting with emergency services for the families.

Fire investigators are still trying to figure out what started the fire but we spoke to a man who thinks he might know.

“I believe what started the fire is a Citronella candle left burning on our front porch,” fire victim Cody Rogers said.

Cody Rogers lived in the apartment where investigators say the fire started off of San Andres Avenue in Atascadero.

“I was not aware that Citronella oil is very flammable,” Rogers said.

Rogers believes his roommate forgot to put the candle and he tried to blow it out.

“When I blew it out the flames kind of got bigger and I know that because it’s oil you can’t put water on it because it’ll spread the fire… should’ve smothered it,” Rogers said.

But Rogers says he thought he’d successfully put out the fire before he went to work – but that wasn’t the case.

“I think what the explosion was, was my brother’s room is right above the porch where the candle was and he said when he woke up almost as soon as he opened his eyes the window exploded in, so that’s probably what that was,” Rogers said.

Rogers was able to salvage some things.

“One of my guitars survived as well so I’m happy about that, I’ve had it since I was 16, I’m 25 now, so,” Rogers said.

“If you take a look up here through the trees you can see up into the bedroom that was the upper part of our apartment here, all the rooms, the roof is totally burnt down,” fire victim Damon Maggiore said.

Damon Maggiore says him and his girlfriend are grateful for these firefighters.

“They went out of their way and came walking up with my jewelry in hand and one of the firefighters said he knew his wife would want her makeup,” fire victim Hilary Elgin said.

Sure enough, there was the makeup found outside their apartment.

“Just be thankful that no one got hurt,” Elgin said.

“It breaks my heart to know that I could’ve prevented this and I didn’t,” Rogers said.

The Red Cross has stepped up to offer temporary housing. The actual apartment building is insured.

One of the displaced residents says that local dry cleaner Paso Robles Dry Cleaners and Laundry on 13th street in Paso Robles has stepped up to offer them free dry cleaning for their clothes that were salvaged.

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